A teenage girl in England has died of problems related to extreme constipation after refusing to use the toilet for eight weeks, the Independent is reporting.
Emily Titterington, 16, who had a mild form of autism, had a paralyzing fear of toilets, say her parents. The teen had suffered bowel problems for most of her life — she was known to go as many as two months without having a bowel movement.
Dr. Amanda Jeffery, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on the teenager, said that Emily had a “massive extension of the bowel,” which led to cardiac arrest. In fact, the impacted stool in the young lady’s body had grown so large that it had compressed her chest cavity and displaced some of her internal organs. On the night she died, she had complained of pain between her shoulder blades.
Dr. Jeffery described her condition:
“It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before — it was dramatic.”
Lee Taylor, the paramedic who first treated the teenager at her home after she collapsed, described her condition similarly.
“I could see that her abdomen was grossly extended. Her lower ribs had been pushed out further than her pubic bone – I was shocked.”
Medical intervention could have saved the teenager’s life, says her family physician, Dr. Alistair James. But the teenager had steadfastly refused medical care, and even though her mother begged her to allow a doctor to examine her, she refused. Her doctor was only able to prescribe laxatives — which Emily refused to take, according to the Mirror. Dr. James says that if Emily had just cooperated with an examination, her life could have been saved.
“Had I [been allowed to examine her abdomen], we would be having a different conversation. Her death could have been avoided with the right treatment at the right point.”
The teenager’s phobia is consistent with a problem pediatricians refer to as “stool withholding” — although it’s mostly known in small children rather than teenagers, according to the Daily Mail.
“Stool withholding is common in children and occurs when a person feels stressed or anxious about using the toilet. They may have a phobia about using the loo, or feel that they are unable to use the facilities at school or in a public place. This fear or phobia may be the result of experiencing pain when passing stools… Withholding stools means that the person’s condition only worsens.”
Emily Titterington is not the only young person to die from constipation-related problems. Poltergeist star Heather O’Rourke died of complications from a bowel obstruction in 1988, just a few weeks after her 12th birthday, according to this Inquisitr report.
[Image courtesy of: Shutterstock / Dundanim]